Enzymes go to work the second something is placed in your mouth.

OK, so maybe enzymes aren’t exactly “magical,” but they definitely work magically wonderful. The minute you place food into your mouth, location specific enzymes are secreted to break down the simple sugars and starches. Salivary amylase (a.k.a. ptyalin), along with salivary lipase, goes to work on them to get a head start on those nutrients to break them down into smaller units for the next stages.

The stomach is where the proteins are broken down by Hydrochloric acid and pepsin (pepsinogen). The heat, acid, enzymes and churning actions of the stomach muscle go to work on the chewed (hopefully) food.

Notice, I said Hydrochloric acid digests protein. While many people have been conditioned to believe stomach acid is the cause for ills, it is actually very necessary. Pepsin even is dependent upon this acid being present to be active. Remember this when you see commercials for those very famous “purple pills” which shut off the proton pumps in the stomach. Proton pumps are where the acid is secreted. If they shut off, they decrease the stomach acid available to “turn on” the pepsin to get those proteins digested. So, yes, they decrease acid reflux….but they may increase indigestion and the feelings of bloat or nagging “rock in the gut” like complaints.

 

As the food moves out of the stomach, it enters the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. This is where the rest of the digestion initiates. Pancreatic amylase goes to work on the partially digested sugars and starches; trypsin and chymotrypsin start the end processing of the proteins; and fats are finally acted upon by lipase in bile. Other, more specialized enzymes, exist to aid in the digestion of certain things. One example is lactase breaking down milk sugar (called lactose). The pulsating waves of peristalsis move this ball of goo through the small intestines to the jejunum and the illium – each section possessing very different, specialized structures – and nutrients being taken into the blood stream by the millions of teeny blood vessels running throughout the organ. The stuff leftover (mostly fluids and fibers) are moved into the large intestine (colon) and the water absorption/regulation takes place.

Enzyme Supplementation

Those who suffer from bloating, gas, bouts of constipation, and other gastro-intestinal issues may have seen advertisements for dietary enzymes supplements. They are marketed to relieve these types of complaints. Some are marketed to assist with specialty enzymes, like lactose and those which break down beans, in order to ease the symptoms of gastric distress felt by some.

There is some disagreement over whether or not these supplementations are even necessary. Some doctors argue a lot of the enzymes are digested before they even get to the proper spot to be of any use. Others are proponents and support their use, wholeheartedly. What is a confused consumer to do? My best advice is to use your head. Have you tried them? Did it increase your feelings of gastric distress or alleviate them? Do you have a medical condition like a peptic ulcer which would be irritated by them? These are questions only you can answer.

What I will say is this: I use enzymes. They help reduce my feelings of a brick being dropped into my gut and help regulate bowel movements. However, I do not feel enzyme supplementation should be “forever thing.” Of course there’s a lot of varied debate, but a “usual” recommendation is to use them for a few months and then ease off. They can be used after or during heavier (think larger) meals or intermittently. A multi-enzyme supplement may contain the following (but certainly is not limited to these):

  •  Alpha-galactosidase
  •  Amylase
  •  Bromelain
  •  Cellulase
  •  Glucoamylase
  •  Hemicellulase
  •  Invertase [Sucrase]
  •  Lactase
  •  Lipase
  •  Maltase
  •  Papain
  •  Peptidase
  •  Protease
  •  Phytase

These are both enzymes usually found in the body, and those found in some foods. However, if there is an acid deficiency or a low level of other enzymes, those food bound enzymes may not ever be “unlocked” to work. What a catch-22, huh?

 

The body was designed to secrete these on its own. As an herbalist, it is my job to suggest natural plant based items which may help your body do what it is designed to do. That being said, check in for the next installment regarding uses for enzymes which may interest you even more.

Sources (among others) :

http://www.amymyersmd.com/2016/04/digestive-enzymes/

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/04/23/digestive-enzymes-help-or-hype

https://www.womentowomen.com/digestive-health/functions-of-digestive-enzymes/

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/boosting-your-immunity-enzymes

 

 

I’m sure you have seen the commercials for laundry detergents using “enzyme action” to rid your clothing of stains. Perhaps you’ve heard of enzymatic products for cleaning other items, like certain metals? But do you really know what enzymes are?

According to the dictionary, enzymes are “a substance produced by a living organism that acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction.” So every single act of breaking something down and putting things together in the body (or pretty much any living organism) is made possible by enzymes. Every single action form the replication of DNA and RNA all the way to breaking down nutrients is made possible by these specialty protein powerhouses. What I am going to concentrate on, here, are the enzymes responsible for digesting foods. These are commonly known as DIGESTIVE ENZYMES.

Digestive Enzymes are classified as hydrolases. These are the types of enzymes which break things down into tiny building blocks. There are many different types of enzymes. Each is specific to a certain type of food or food component. An example is pepsin and trypsin working specifically on proteins; or, lipase working directly upon dietary fats. But, where do these enzymes come from? Are we just born with them? Do we consume them?

Starch digestion begins in the mouth with the enzymes contained in saliva. This breaks down simple sugars as the food is mechanically broke down by the action of chewing. In the stomach, hydrochloric acid and pepsin work to break down the proteins as the stomach itself churns and works the food around (incidentally, did you know acid is required for the production of pepsin? hmmmm). The small intestine is where the liver and pancreas sends enzymes to break down the long chains of proteins into smaller and smaller amino acids which can then be adsorbed by the small intestinal walls, into the blood stream and sent out to the cells for fuel. These are the enzymes which the human body is responsible for producing by itself. This is a list of enzymes, along with their sources and functions: https://scioly.org/wiki/index.php/Digestive_Secretion_List

There are wsome enzymes present in the foods we eat which can act as digestive aids. An example of this is bromelain and its ability to help break down meats. When I was a kid, my grandma used to cook pork with pineapple. I’m sure it was because she liked the taste, but she was helping make that pork easier for our stomachs to digest. Many veggies and fruits contain enzymes with various beneficial roles.

Any damages to the lining of the gut (stomach and/or intestine) can impair the body’s ability to secrete enzymes and/or absorb the broken down food products. This can be very concerning as painful conditions like indigestion, acid reflux, etc often occur. And if you noticed my note above, acid is required for the activation of some enzymes. What catch 22!

The next series of post installments will deal with enzymes. I want to investigate their functions, benefits, and how you can use them to help yourself.

 

 

 

 

A lady once told me, “I don’t need to cleanse because I already poop three times a day.” Really? Is that all people think cleansing is? It only encompasses how many times a person manages to drop a deuce in a day?

This is what we get when people rush out to buy cheaply formulated “cleanse” products which only serve to purge the intestines. What the heck happened to common sense? Good cleanses do not merely move the bowels – and they most certainly do not move them in such a way that would cause irritation and swelling. While finding a cleanse which works for your individual body type and make up may take some time, do not blindly take cleanses which do nothing past turning you into a “salad shooter.”

 

There are different types of “cleanses” which range from something as simple as laying of the refined foods for a time and allowing your body to recoup from the burden of excess simple sugars, etc, all the way to target cleanses designed to get the bile moving to “flush” the liver. So let’s start with some common sense:

Any time you fill your body with fresh, whole foods and leave out overly processed foods, you may have a “cleansing response”

What does this mean? Well, if you eat peanut butter and high fructose corn syrup laden grape jelly on white bread washed down with a red cream soda every single day and then suddenly switch to all fresh veggies, you may experience some diarrhea, cramping, etc. This does not mean the veggies gave you diarrhea. They could have but only because your body is not used to them. Any time you upgrade the quality of your nutrition, you run the risk of the body throwing off excessive amounts of toxins. I have people tell me all the time, “I can’t eat vegetables. They give me diarrhea,” only to find out they only eat them once or twice a year! No WONDER they are giving diarrhea! The body doesn’t even know what the heck they are!

It all evens out

Unless the person has some odd-ball condition like some diverticulitis type of things (it does happen…and is not limited to diverticulitis), slowly progressing into a more whole diet will become easier for the body to tolerate. The explosive results should not stay. As I said, this is barring some condition like a food intolerance or diverticulitis, or some other dys-functional state of the body. Even then, cooking the veggies, or just a light steaming, can make them more tolerable.

 

“Good” cleanses

Now, there are juice cleanses, colon cleanses, liver cleanses, kidney cleanses…really the list just keeps going on. The main type of cleanse I’d like to address is the kind which flush the liver. The liver is the main toxic waste sorting center of the body. Not all chemicals, but a lot of them, which circulate in the body go to the liver to be processed for disposal. It’s just like your garbage going into a chute in an apartment building. You toss it in the chute. It goes to the basement, maybe, where it is then moved to the holding area. There, it might be compacted or re-bagged, or tagged, or something to reprocess it for the purpose of getting it out of the building. That’s what the liver does. It processes these chemicals to get them out of your body. Usually this is done through a whole string of chemical reactions including methylation, and more. It can get extremely technical, but the end point being the liver turns these chemicals into substances which can be eliminated out of the body either through sweat, feces, urine, and even the vapors of the breath.

 

What I refer to as “good” cleanses contain some key components:

A liver flusher

Any herb which increases the flow of bile could fall in to this category. I like to use bitter greens like yellow dock or burdock paired with berberine containing herbs like Oregon grape root, etc. The increase in bile is thought to stimulate the process of ridding the body of toxins.

A fiber blend

This should be a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers. It should be gentle enough to not add to the irritation which may be occurring in the intestinal tract already. Also, it should not taste like a cardboard box just took residence in your mouth. I like to suggest a fiber blend containing things like psyllium (if tolerated. Some people have allergies to this one and do better on something else), marshmallow root, slippery elm, and more. This fiber blend can act as a sponge to oak up the bile. Then, it becomes a ball of goo which should work its way through.

A bowel mover

Too much fiber without locomotion makes a brick wall in your bowels. A bowel mover can be either a laxative like senna or an herb like Cascara Sagrada which acts by stimulating the parastalsis movements of the intestinal walls. I consider Senna to be equivalent to a jack hammer. Some people need this type of action. Others do not. However, be aware of the difference.

A soother

The bile which is thrown off can be extremely irritating to the bowel. There is no need to intentionally increase pain! That’s just crazy. That’s why I have suggested to some clients to add soothing, cooling herbs like some forms of aloe, yucca, or cat’s claw to their cleanses to reduce the potential for angry intestinal reactions.

A mood booster

Science has shown us that the gut has an enormous amount of nerve activity going on. It is now thought to function as a “second brain” and has more neurotransmitter receptors for compounds like serotonin, etc than any other part of the body INCLUDING THE BRAIN!  Long used terms such as “a gut feeling” now take on new meaning since science is supporting the emotional link to gut health. Since the gut includes the intestinal system (it does not stop at the stomach), it only stands to reason that emotional support may be needed to help a cleanse go well. I like to use flower essences for this. Individual remedies may work, but I find the blends to do a much better job, overall.

A diuretic

Keeping the fluids flowing through the urinary system is a must! Dandelion, uva ursi, and other diuretic herbs may aid in keeping all the waters flowing in the proper direction.

Vitamin and Mineral support

Dandelion is such a wonderful herb. It is full of minerals necessary to keep the body balanced. Multi mineral and multi vitamin products may help as well. The trick is finding which one(s) work the best for you, individually.

 

These are just some places to start. Seeing a natural health consultant or herbalist who can help you narrow down your choices may be beneficial for you.

 

A person randomly messaged me recently and asked me, “…and what do your herbs cure?” WOW! That’s a loaded question! You see, in the U.S., the word “cure” is a no-no for those who not medical doctors. Even medical doctors are somewhat reluctant to use the word when it comes to certain situations. Given that I did not know with whom I was chatting, I answered with the long version. I informed the prospective customer that I do not practice medicine (which I don’t); that using the words “cure, treat, diagnose” and a few others may be misconstrued as the practice of medicine in the United States and therefore I do not use them…EVER! I went on to explain how herbs, supplements, etc feed the body various nutrients and phytochemicals it could be lacking. Through this “nourishment” the body may be able to restore its own balance and achieve homeostasis. I further went on to explain how I use an assortment of traditional assessment techniques to form an idea of where each of my client’s stand and offer up advice in a “what I would do if I were you,” kind of way to my clients. It is completely the choice of each individual if they would like to try it out or not and I ALWAYS advise he/she to double check everything with a pharmacist if on medications and to be sure to share their products with their medical practitioners.

 

This is all very true. For those who would like to learn more about natural health modalities throughout the world, I encourage you to look up research at www.pubmed.gov. This website is sponsored by the United States’ Federal Government’s office on NCAM. I AM allowed to point to various studies and cite them as examples of the successful use of a natural remedy. For those in Ohio, please look into supporting the Ohio Sunshine Freedom Coalition (http://www.ohiohealthfreedom.info/). This organization is working hard to enact protection laws in the state of Ohio that would allow consultants, such as myself, to practice without fear with informed consent from the client.

Be strong out there, people….do not allow your rights to be lost! Be informed!

 

Those of you who actively follow the “latest and greatest” may have heard some about a supplement called Berberine. This bright yellow supplement is bitter and is often found in capsules alone.

The shrub known as Indian berberry or Tree Turmeric
The shrub known as Indian barberry or Tree Turmeric

 

Berberine is a bright yellow supplement.
Berberine is a bright yellow supplement.

Nature’s Sunshine also has a berberine supplement. While berberine is found in many yellow root herbs ( like Oregan grape and golden seal – both very bitter tasting yellow roots), NSP gets theirs from Indian barberry.

Known in ayurveda for its uses as an antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-fungal and antioxidant, barberry is sometimes referred to as Tree Turmeric. The bark contains many alkoloids, including berberine, and the plant has been studied in India as a possible treatment of the urinary damage that can be caused by the chemotherapy drug called cisplatin. The studies show the nephrotoxicity caused by the cisplatin was reversed by a decoction of root bark of Berberis aristata (Indian berberry).

In traditional herbalism, it is a bitter herb. This usually means it has the ability to flush bile from the liver. This is highly beneficial for those seeking to use it during cleanses.  Bitter herbs aid in digestion, too.

It is now becoming popular in the US for its anti-diabetic uses. It seems use of berberine is associated with maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. This is one point being addressed in many weight loss programs. It seems when the body is supplied with proper glucose balance, a person is not nearly as hungry and does not crave as many simple sugars. In one study, berberine was found to be as effective in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels as the drug metformin.

And that is not all. Berberine is being looked at for an aid in all areas of what is commonly referred to “metabolic syndrome.” This includes high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, and obesity. Berberine seems to have a healthy effect on the cholesterol and triglyceride levels of a person, as well. This, along with the research pointing to its ability to help reduce fat (even fatty liver), makes it a wonderful resource for those fighting the triple threat of metabolic syndrome.

And there’s even more! Berberine may even help with the following:

Depression, perhaps due to increases in nor-adrenaline and serotonin

Cancer: Berberine may help suppress tumor growth and spread

Infections, including anti-viral effects against the flu

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD),as it helps reduce fat build up in your liver

With the majority of berberine research available on PubMed being done in the last five years, this “newcomer” shows major promise!

 

Berberine from Indian barberry is the ingredient in many berberine supplements.

 

Earlier, I wrote about metabolic age as an important measurement of your body’s functionality. It is a newer measurement than resting metabolic rate or your basal metabolic rate. Both of these terms refer to the amount of calories a person burns while the body is at rest (not involved in exercise). This is sometimes referred to as your BMR.

BMR Calculations

For women:

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

For men:

BMR = 666 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches ) – (6.8 x age in years)

Once you have your BMR, you can then compare to other in your same age bracket.

Your metabolic age is simply the age at which your body is functioning.

So, if you are 5 foot 4 inches, female and have the same BMI as a 16 year old female of that height and weight, your metabolic age is 16. You can find many charts and calculator tools online.

Another option is to use various scales that measure your metabolic age.

As a trained IN.form coach, I use a biotracker. This is a fancy name for  a scale that takes various measurements. I input the sex, age, height, and activity level. It then does the calculations for weight, body fat, daily caloric intake, hydration levels, visceral fat, bmi, bone mass and metabolic age. Not a single one of these measurements is an end-all and be-all. The idea is that the weight, visceral fat, metabolic age, bmi, and body fat all come down, while the other numbers go up. These measurements are merely tools to give visual confirmation and feedback to confirm we are doing the right things for our bodies. It can be a huge motivation to see those numbers change. I know it was for me. Especially when my initial reading was 92! (Completely, not kidding….it was a whopping 92!! I was functioning. metabolically as a 92 year old woman….at 40!)

How do we increase our metabolism?

-Exercise

Move your body! Just get up and move. It does not matter what kind of exercise you choose to do. Just pick one. The best kind of exercise for you is one you will do!

-Supplements

Some synergystic blends of supplements may help speed

-Proper Sleep

This is an area where I lag behind. I tend to burn the midnight oil. Not getting adequate rest can work against weight management efforts. Most experts agree that an adult should get between seven to 10 hours of sleep a night. Eight hours is a nice middle ground.

-Stress management

This is where I REALLY fall behind. My stress management, at this time, sucks! As a wholistic consultant and IN.form coach, I know I should probably serve as an example. However, let’s face it. I am human just like all of you. My stress levels have been through the roof, at times! That’s when I find myself eating and grabbing the chocolate. I also know that certain adrenal hormones, produced as a reaction to stress, block weight loss attempts!

Whatever you do, know that there is always a tomorrow.

So your readings one day aren’t that great. Oh well. The world did not quit spinning. You try again. And again. The idea is to keep up the effort. Everyday you make another small change for the better. You then become better and better until you are the best you there is to be!